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B'resheet/Genesis 30:25 And Ya'akov said to Lavan, "Send me out and I will go to my place, to my land."
There are two issues in this text: one of substance and one of interest. The interest is the Hebrew grammar at the end of Ya'akov's sentence. He uses the preposition , "to, towards, into", with "my place" but the shorter , "to for" with "my land", where it might have been more natural to finish , repeating the same preposition.Hirsch comments on this to point out that while Ya'akov had a place, a home, perhaps where his father was still living, "to or towards" which he can go, the land - to be the property of his descendants - is not yet his, so that "to, for" is a better usage. Indeed, it almost conveys the idea that although he will be in his place, he will be no nearer his land than in Haran, except that he will be living more for the land of his future and bringing up his family in the land that is one day to be theirs.
The substance, on the other hand, concerns the verb and Ya'akov's attitude in making his request. The verb is a Pi'el imperative from the root , which in its Qal form is most often translated as 'send'. In the Pi'el stem, it carries a permissive quality: send away, let go, dismiss; let loose, set free, set at liberty. So even though in imperative (or command) form, Ya'akov is essentially asking for permission to leave Lavan's household and employ in order to return to the land of Canaan. Here is a grown man, with two wives and a dozen children plus, no doubt, his own - still small at this stage - household of maids and other servants. Moreover, he had the call of G-d on him; he has a future, a land, a place and a life to live that doesn't consist of making his devious uncle any richer than he already is. Why is he asking permission and not just telling Lavan that they are going? The answer to that question is an excellent example of how things are supposed to work in the kingdom of G-d.
Firstly, as we will find out in a later parasha, G-d has not yet told Ya'akov to leave. He may have been speaking to him about making changes in their life and reminding him of His promises and some of the things that are to come, but He hasn't taken the starting pistol out of its holster, let alone pulled the trigger. Oftentimes, G-d speaks to us about something that He is going to do, at some point in the future; He prepares us for what is yet to come: "'For I know the plans I have for you', declares the L-rd, 'plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope'" (Jeremiah 29:11, NASB). But it is not yet and we have to wait for G-d's specific timing and instructions before actually moving out and walking into that vision.
Secondly, there is the question of oversight. Ya'akov may only have been Lavan's son-in-law and Lavan may have been taking shocking advantage of him, but he was nevertheless living in Haran as a part of Lavan's household and enjoying his protection, patronage and position. Lavan is providing the roof over his head, the food on his table and even - in a sense, as the next verse goes on to say - his family. Ya'akov had come with nothing but his wits and to some extent, even though he had earned them, all that he had belonged to Lavan. He was under Lavan's authority, so it was only right and proper that Ya'akov should ask for Lavan's permission before just walking out, breaking all the family relationships and leaving hurt feelings and loose ends.
The writer to the Hebrews says: "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your lives, as people who will have to render an account" (Hebrews 13:17, CJB). Obviously there are situations, such as leadership abuse or sin, when G-d calls people to move on a more unilateral basis, although even then there is an expectation that we should attempt to communicate and be orderly, but the normal assumption is that when it is time for people to move on, not only will the people concerned know, but their current leaders also will be aware that it is right; G-d will have spoken to both leaders and people. Then there can be a blessing and a sending out, proper maintenance of relationships and a smooth transition.
Further Study: Proverbs 12:14-15; 1 Corinthians 14:33
Application: Do you feel that G-d has been telling you to do something, that it is time to be moving on into new areas of work, ministry or life? If so, make sure that you have talked with your leaders, pastors or the people to whom you are accountable - you might be surprised how receptive they are to the idea and can confirm your calling.
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
Comment - 28Nov06 02:28 Jonathan S: Powerful in my life given our plans - especially the 2nd section on patronage, and authority. But also, WHEN do we know that it's time to "move"? For me it would appear to me that we need to be aware of significant signs and events around us and match this up with our knowledge of scripture. Our Lord says that we know the signs of the weather but not the signs of His coming... May HE bless us all as believers that we may hear His Clarion call and respond dutifully and faithfully!
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